South Africa’s platinum mining strike is finally ending after a five month work stoppage. The strike by roughly 70,000 platinum workers wrought massive damage—to the bottom lines of companies, to the lives of workers and to South Africa’s fragile economy. Platinum producers said they lost more than $2 billion in revenue since the strike started, while workers lost nearly $1 billion in unpaid salaries. The country’s economy shrank 0.6% in the first quarter from a year earlier, the first quarterly contraction since 2009, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The strike was led by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, which has grown rapidly by promising higher payouts than its rival, the National Union of Mineworkers. The AMCU was behind the mine strikes in August 2012, when 34 protesters were killed after police fired live ammunition into a crowd. In the final weeks of the latest strike, four mine workers and the wife of one were killed. One was hacked to death, two were strangled and one died when his shack was set on fire. Mine workers not a part of the strike say intimidation was rampant. One worker showed a photo on his phone of a dead man with his stomach gouged out that was being text messaged to other workers to dissuade them from going to work.
Joseph. Mathunjwa, the leader of the AMCU, told the WSJ that his union isn’t behind the violence that has marked many of the recent strikes and that the AMCU’s goal is to stand up for the rights of people that government and companies have taken advantage of for too long.
Mining analysts say it will take at least three months to get production back to the prestrike levels. The world’s three-biggest platinum producers— Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum Holdings and Lonmin PLC—said they each lost around a third of their annual production.
On Monday, June 23, the day’s biggest mover was the price of US palladium bar, which saw a 2.0 percent decline to $819.00 per ounce. The price of Chinese palladium bar closed at CNY 184.00 ($29.56) per gram. Following a couple days of improvement, the metal’s price weakened by 1.1 percent. Japanese palladium bar saw little change in its price yesterday at JPY 2,700 ($26.45) per gram.
Following two days of rising prices, the price of US platinum bar dropped 1.1 percent to $1,451 per ounce. Weakening prices followed two days of improvement as the price of Chinese platinum bar dropped 1.0 percent to CNY 308.00 ($49.48) per gram. After a couple of days of improving prices, the price of Japanese platinum bar held steady at JPY 4,799 ($47.01).
After improving for two days, the price of US gold bullion declined 0.4 percent to $1,315 per ounce. Indian gold bullion prices rose 0.2 percent to INR 27,875 ($463.16) per 10 grams. The price of Chinese gold bullion steadied at CNY 262.99 ($42.25) per gram following two-days of increases. The price of Japanese gold bullion ended a two-day climb, settling at JPY 4,294 ($42.07) per gram.
At CNY 4,325 ($694.88), the price of Chinese silver finished the market day up 0.6 percent per kilogram. The price of US silver increased 0.6 percent to $20.88 per ounce. Indian silver finished the day up 0.6 percent to INR 45,648 ($758.46) per kilogram. Japanese silver held its value on Monday at JPY 657.00 ($6.44) per 10 grams.